New online booking site for mandatory hotel quarantine in days

THE first passengers will enter Ireland’s mandatory hotel quarantine system within days – two months after the government announced plans to expand travel restrictions.

The Irish Sun understands that a new online passenger booking system will go live in the coming days with Health Minister Stephen Donnelly due to give details to Cabinet on Tuesday.

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Passengers arriving from high-risk countries will be required to quarantine in a hotelCredit: PA: Press Association
A general view shows patients being vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination center at Helix

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A general view shows patients being vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination center at HelixCredit: AFP or licensors
Vaccinations will intensify in the coming months

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Vaccinations will intensify in the coming monthsCredit: AFP or licensors

Airlines will alert passengers from 33 ‘red list’ countries before traveling to Ireland and warn them that they must book and pay for their mandatory 14-day quarantine stay.

The online reservation system will be operational in the coming days, with the first passengers expected to enter quarantine hotels 72 hours after the website goes live.

A number of hotels will be used as quarantine facilities with enough capacity to handle several hundred travellers.

The government has also agreed a deal for the commissioning of additional ‘surge’ hotels if additional capacity is needed.

People arriving in Ireland from countries with dangerous variants of Covid-19 such as South Africa and Brazil will be required to stay in the facilities for 14 days and undergo repeated Covid testing.

The mandatory two-week quarantine will also apply to people who arrive in Ireland from anywhere in the world without a negative Covid-19 PCR test.

Passengers will book their two-week quarantine stay on the government’s new online system and will also have to pay for their own stay – the cost of which is still being finalized but is expected to be at least €2,000.

Anyone who breaks the mandatory quarantine rules will face a fine of €2,500 or six months in prison.

PRIVATE ENTERPRISE

The hotel’s quarantine system will be managed by a private company which will include security services. However, the Defense Forces will play a supervisory role in the system by monitoring the facilities.

The government first announced plans to introduce mandatory quarantine hotels in Ireland on January 26.

Legislation allowing quarantine hotels to operate took several weeks to be drafted and go through homes before being signed into law by President Micheal D Higgins on March 7.

Negotiations with the private companies that will operate the quarantine hotels for the state have dragged on for the past two weeks.

Meanwhile, between February 22 and March 14, 1,213 people from Red List countries such as Brazil and South Africa flew to Ireland without having to undergo a mandatory hotel quarantine.

Sinn Fein transport spokesman Darren O’Rourke last night criticized the government for taking too long to introduce the quarantine system which he says does not go far enough.

He said: “It was incredibly slow. This was first reported by NPHET as early as last May. They advised the government to prepare the ground and consider it as a real political option.

“It is clear from the response after Christmas that they had done none of this work and in fact it appears that they did not even start it before the legislation was prepared.

“He arrives late in the day. It’s half sincere, it’s half baked and it doesn’t go far enough. And all that is bad for solidarity, it’s bad for morale

“People are very frustrated because of the duration of the confinement. It’s almost like a perfect storm, the weather is improving and people want to get out, but we’re three months into lockdown and the numbers aren’t dropping as quickly as they should.

“Then with all the things people see of people landing at airports from sun destinations or heading to sun destinations and the government is talking out of both sides of its mouth when it comes to the quarantine regime and turning a blind eye.

“If I were the government, I would go further and extend this quarantine to all non-essential arrivals from all countries for public health reasons but also for morale reasons.”

PROHIBITED DELAY

Public Expenditure Minister Micheal McGrath defended the delay in implementing the mandatory quarantine system and explained how more countries could be added to the red list in the coming days.

He said: “This is a very complex issue and it involves a very significant interference in people’s civil liberties, but it is for the greater good.
“That’s why the government was determined to get it right and get it done.

“In the coming days, the Minister of Health will present full operational details for the hotel quarantine in Ireland later this week for people currently coming from 33 countries.

“It will be considered, in accordance with public health advice, to modify this list in the coming days.”

Ireland is one of the first countries in Europe to introduce a mandatory hotel quarantine, with Germany announcing it is considering quarantining everyone who flies into the country.

VIRTUAL SUMMIT

It comes as EU leaders prepare to hold a virtual summit on Thursday to discuss Europe’s slow vaccination campaign.

EU Financial Services Commissioner Mariead McGuinness said leaders would consider a total ban on exporting vaccines out of Europe due to the bloc’s struggle to get enough doses.

She said: “European citizens are increasingly angry and upset that the rollout of the vaccine has not happened as quickly as we expected.

“The EU and the UK both have contracts with AstraZeneca and I understand the company supplies the UK but not the EU.

“We supply the UK with other vaccines, so I think it’s just about openness and transparency.”

Sinn Fein's Darren O'Rourke blasted the government for the delay

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Sinn Fein’s Darren O’Rourke blasted the government for the delay
Covid restrictions will stay in place for 'a while' despite vaccine rollout

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Covid restrictions will stay in place for ‘a while’ despite vaccine rolloutCredit: AFP or licensors

It comes as the National Public Health Emergency Team has warned that Covid restrictions will have to remain in place for “some time” despite the rollout of the vaccine.

In the minutes of the February 18 NPHET meeting, the experts noted: “At this stage, the vaccine should not be considered as a control measure that will allow the lifting of social restrictions at the population level and it it may take some time before we can trust it. on in such a way.

“This view is supported by the fact that countries like Israel, which has one of the highest vaccination rates, continue to exercise a cautious approach to easing restrictions.”

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